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What are we each entitled to in our divorce settlement?

What does the law say about how to split the house, how to share pensions and other assets, and how much maintenance is payable.

What steps can we take to reach a fair agreement?

The four basic steps to reaching an agreement on divorce finances are: disclosure, getting advice, negotiating and implementing a Consent Order.

What is a Consent Order and why do we need one?

A Consent Order is a legally binding document that finalises a divorcing couple's agreement on property, pensions and other assets.


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Property rights on marriage

  • MJJ
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12 Jul 12 #342715 by MJJ
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Hi,

It may sound cynical anticipating things going wrong before I''m even re-married but, having been previously divorced, I''m naturally cautious.

I own my house and my partner lives with me. We both work full-time and are in our 40s. My 12 year old son lives with us. My partner has 2 children from a previous relationship who live with their mum and he pays maintenance.

We used to rent then moved into this house together. I paid the bulk of the house price in cash (from my divorce settlement) and took on a small mortgage of £20k in my name only.

My partner and I split all household bills, inc the mortgage 50/50. All bills are in my name and paid from a bank account in my sole name. He transfers a sum each month from his bank account to mine to cover his share.

My partner''s credit history is shocking (from before we met) so we can''t even get a joint bank account, let alone a joint mortgage.

My question is, if we were to marry would that automatically entitle him to 50% of the house equity (total equity currently approx £100k) if we divorced?

Or, would he just have a claim on the amount covered by the mortgage which he''s been contributing to? I acknowledge his financial contribution to the mortgage but he never contributed to the deposit and the house is the only financial security I have for my son & myself.

  • maisymoos
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12 Jul 12 #342718 by maisymoos
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I am no expert but I would definitely seek legal advice on what you can do to protect your assets. A pre nup agreement or something similar may be worth considering. As you are probably aware if the marriage failed what would happen would depend on so many factors and these are all complete unknowns in your case.

  • jonathancj
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12 Jul 12 #342750 by jonathancj
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There''s no automatic entitlement to 50%. On a short marriage, it''s questionable that he would get anything. If the marriage lasts, and obviously one hope that it would, then a longer marriage would entitle him to some provision, but it''s not at all easy to say just how much.

  • cookie2
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12 Jul 12 #342754 by cookie2
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Nothing wrong with being cautious second time around - I know I''m certainly not going to get married again unless it makes financial sense!

If you marry then he would certainly have a claim on the house. That claim is probably less than 50% since you have 2 children living with you, but it would be a claim nonetheless. The extent of that claim would very much depend on the figures involved. Worst case scenario, he could force a sale and you''d be up the creek. Of course that claim goes both ways, if he has assets then a marriage would entitle you to claim on those too. If you''re unmarried, you each keep what''s yours. Married, you split everything, no matter whose name it''s in (but not necessarily 50/50).

Another factor may be spousal maintenance. Lets say for example you have a child together and you give up work to look after it, living off his income. Then if you are unmarried and you split up, all he will have to pay is child maintenance - you might not be able to afford the mortgage etc. But if you are married, you might well have a claim for spousal maintenance, which could enable you to keep the house.

So really, I think the best thing is to not get married unless you have a child together. If you do then getting married would be advantageous for you. But as always - it depends on the figures.

Whatever you do, DO NOT remain unmarried and put the house into joint names! That is the worst of both worlds. If you do that, he WILL be entitled to 50% if you split up.

  • MJJ
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13 Jul 12 #342921 by MJJ
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Thanks for the replies.

One reassuring thought is that my partner has equity in the house he still co-owns with his Ex. Therefore, in theory, I assume I could claim against his share of the equity on that property if our various assets were being assessed for distribution in a divorce situation :cheer:

We have no plans to have children togther so I suspect I may be financially safer if I carry on living in sin!

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13 Jul 12 #342923 by cookie2
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MJJ wrote:

my partner has equity in the house he still co-owns with his Ex. Therefore, in theory, I assume I could claim against his share of the equity on that property

I would not be so sure of that. It really depends what you mean by "equity". If you mean he has a Mesher order then that would not be realized until the trigger terms are met, and if this is after your divorce, it''s unlikely you''ll be able to get any. If he simply still co-owns the house without a Consent Order then the amount of equity he''d get would depend on his needs, and not your needs... I doubt you would get much of this.

So yeah, living in sin sounds good to me - unless you do have kids after all. Having said that, your son who lives with you would become a "child of the family" if you did marry, so all would not be lost. But really from a financial point of view I would say in your current circumstances, don''t marry.

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